What do Google and Apple's new opt out of tracking features mean for users and businesses?

iOS 14.5 is here and it comes with major implications for advertisers and tracking. Let’s talk about iOS 14.5.

Rebecca Heath
June 2, 2021

iOS 14.5 is here and it comes with major implications for advertisers and tracking. Let’s talk about iOS 14.5.

What is iOS 14.5?

Simple. Another operating system update Apple has created in order to fix a few glitches, bring us more emojis, a new ability to unlock your phone through your apple watch, new Siri voices and also includes the new privacy feature, App Tracking Transparency.

Prior to the updates, Facebook was able to auto enroll personalised ads, the update will now give you the option to opt out of these preferences immediately, rather than manually doing it in the app. This change will particularly affect platforms like Facebook, that rely on tracking to deliver accurate audiences and remarketing to advertisers. This has led to a strong argument that it will impact negatively on small businesses.

New feature broken down

This sharing of data is often used for adverts, with Facebook for example making big use of it, but with App Tracking Transparency you’ll be able to opt out if you’d prefer. Let’s lay out the pros and cons of this new update, and explain exactly what opting in and opting out means.

In simple terms, it basically means Apple allows apps like Facebook to use 3rd party sites to put the more relevant ads in front of you. For example, if you’ve recently been searching for new furniture, you're probably about to see a load of ads for IKEA, Made.com, or even less known small furniture businesses. It simply puts ads for products you’ve already been looking for in front of you.  

Opting out doesn’t mean you won’t receive any adverts at all, in fact you’ll still have ads displayed but they are likely to be less relevant to you. Without the contextual information provided by your browsing, advertisers are less able to deliver relevant content.

New feature for Android users

Google have taken a leaf out of Apple’s book, as it became popular amongst users, they have since started to create the new opt out feature for Android users too. The new update is set to begin roll out later this year, and expected to come out in stages. Google told developers the changes will “provide users with more control over their data, and help bolster security and privacy”.

How does the new feature affect consumers?

Would you prefer to be shown random ads, or would you prefer to be shown ads for brands that are more likely to be suitable for you? The majority of consumers so far have chosen to opt out of data sharing, for the obvious reason of maintaining their privacy.
Personally, we would opt to be shown personalised ads. I would prefer to see ads tailored to me and displaying products,services and events I could actually be interested in. Apple has done a superb PR job to make it seem like they've not got any data on us, however they already have thumb prints, Face IDs and your address, so is their ‘care about privacy’ policy really that private? They are also not displaying the “do you want to be tracked” pop up on any of their own apps or services.  

What does this mean for businesses?

New stats revealed only 90% have opted in to allow tracking, meaning it has now become more difficult, particularly for small businesses, to reach new customers and show their latest products and services.

The option to opt-in or opt-out of data sharing has made the ability to target more refined, meaning specific audiences will prove more difficult to create, causing problems with ad visibility. The long term effects on small businesses and start-ups could mean their ability to reach a new customer audience through paid advertising will be limited, they may struggle to build up a following as a new business.

What can advertisers do?

In truth iOS upgrades can take a long time to reach the majority of iPhone users, so the impacts will be a little slower than most people think.